Okay, this is a little microscopic, but that’s what Dopers do, right? I have been listening to “Let No One Deceive You: Songs of Bertolt Brecht” by Frankie Armstrong and Dave Van Ronk. Armstrong does a dynamite rendition of "Pirate Jenny. In the best-known English version (Blitzstein’s) the lyrics refer to the ship as the “black freighter.” Other translations are closer to original version with "the ship with eight sails and fifty [or 55] cannon."Armstrong sings of "the ship with black sails and fifty cannon. I can’t find those lyrics anywhere. It’s not the Willett or Bentley translations. Armstrong may have done this on her own, of course. But if anyone knows of a published version of “The Threepenny Opera” that has the ship with black sails, please let me know.
Hmmm. I have a large collection of Threepenny lyrics that I’ve copied down, but not for “Pirate Jenny”. It’s not in the Michael Feingold translation, according to this review (it uses “galleon”) or Christopher Isherwood.
I didn’t find any relevant book with the line in OpenLibrary, either.
It might be a slightly altered version of Bentley, Blitzstein, or Willett.
Thanks for checking. I’ll put it down to the “folk process” for now!
I took the completely krazy step of actually writing to Frankie Armstrong to ask her. She wrote back to say she put together her version from various translations and made some small changes herself to make it more singable. I do think “ship with black sails” is better than “ship with eight sails” or “black freighter” and sounds more like the German “acht” or eight in the original. Armstrong released another record of Brecht, Weill, and Eisler material a few years ago; I think that’s where her version on YouTube comes from.